Make a Smart Move

By at home

Kirstie Allsopp gives her top advice for anyone thinking about moving house – from how to choose your removal company to practical advice for packing up. It’s all here…

Moving is an expensive business and there’s no getting away from that, but with the right planning you can make it a less stressful experience – and maybe even save some money.

The move

Of course, there’s the move itself – the literal transfer of your possessions from where they are at the moment to your new home. One way of doing this (cheaply) is to rope in your friends and make lots of car journeys.

Alternatively, you can get those same friends involved and hire a van – just make sure it’s a decent-sized one because the fewer trips you make, the better.

At the opposite end of the scale, you can employ removal firms who will even organise the packing up process for you. If you’re hiring a company, budget in at least £300 for a local move and avoid moving on a Friday so that you have have the full benefit of a weekend to complete any last minute tasks. Also, if you are scheduled to move on a Friday and there are hold ups or delays involving transaction of moneis, you’ll have to wait until after the weekend to sort out any issues. In the worst case scenario you may find yourself saddled with a removal van full of your personal belongings and nowhere to go. This may result in having to pay for storage and further removal costs. You may also find that your removal team are not available for hire in the following week.

If in doubt, chuck it out

Moving can be very stressful, especially when you’ve been living in the same area for a number of years. It’s amazing just how much junk you can accumulate, but it’s important to be ruthless.

Start with the right mindset and clear out anything in your house that you don’t really need. It is expensive, time-consuming and just plain unnecessary to move things you won’t be using. Observe the golden rule – if you don’t use it now, you’re unlikely to use it later. This clutter can include broken tools, old toys, old clothing and other items that you – and your house– no longer require. Give unwanted, usable items to charity shops or sell them on.

Throw out any old documents, cheque books, accounts, receipts, magazines and other piles of paper that have accumulated. Remember that even if you only pack two boxes a day, in 30 days you will have packed 60 boxes. Start in areas where the goods are not in frequent use in your house such as the attic and garage.

No matter how it is done, moving is a back-breaking job that will take more time than you want to spend on it.

The more people you invite to help, the easier it’ll be for you – as long as you’re organised.

Right from the word go it makes sense to operate from a checklist outlining everything that needs to be done before and after your move – from having the gas and electric turned off through to cancelling the milk order.

Packing it all in

When it comes to packing, not only do the boxes need to be strong enough but you will also need them in varying sizes.

Make sure they’re clean, in good condition and have covers so they can be closed and sealed with tape. ­Start collecting them early on or alternatively you could buy them from your removal company. Wine boxes are useful because they contain dividers making them ideal for packing glasses. You’ll need plenty of wrapping paper and heavy-duty tape.

Anything wrapped in newspaper is likely to be soiled from the ink and will require cleaning.

Removal firms use plain paper to wrap your possessions. For items you prefer to keep clean, you can buy this paper as well as tissue paper, shock-resistant corrugated paper and bubble wrap for more delicate items.

Another trick when packing is to try the ABC system. Everything you pack does not have to be unpacked straight away, but if it contains essential items, mark the box A. If the contents are important, but not crucial, mark the box B. If the box contains seasonal items – like Christmas decorations and other things you won’t need right away, mark the box C.

Boxes can be handled more easily if they do not exceed 50lb when fully packed. Keep this in mind when you’re packing. Try to pack on a room-by-room basis, keeping the contents of each room in separate boxes.

This will eliminate confusion and save time when you’re unpacking.

Practical hints

As you exit your old home, make sure you leave behind address labels so the people who move into your house can forward any post which might arrive after you’ve gone – even though you will have sensibly paid to have your mail re-directed to your new property.

It also helps to have close to hand a sophisticated survival kit. This should include items that will get you through the night if it’s too late to unpack – such as non-perishable foods, a can opener, paper plates, plastic utensils, bottled water, a flashlight, towels, sheets, toiletries, a blanket, toilet paper, pen and paper, a few small games or magazines and a change of clothes for everyone.

It helps with the settling in process if you organise just one room in your new home as quickly as possible. This way, you’ll have a quiet, box-free retreat. You and your family will then have a place to go when you need a break from all of the unpacking activities.

It’s always best to first arrange your furniture and then unpack accessories and personal items. As soon as the bedroom furniture is delivered, set it up and put the sheets on the beds.

If you have pets, be sure you have a plan for them. You could keep your cats in the bathroom with their litter box, or put your dogs in a fenced-in yard. Also, take care to do what you can to make your pets comfortable in your new home. Bring their favourite toys, give them attention, and don’t leave them alone for long periods of time.

Make the first night in your new home as special as possible. Enjoy a takeaway and sweeten the evening with fresh flowers, candles and music. It will really make a big difference and will help you to unwind and de-stress from the chaos of the last few weeks.

Finally, in case the lights go out, make sure you have a tool kit and spare bulbs to hand.

Now you can sit back, relax and enjoy your new home.


Choosing your removal company can be daunting but don’t be swayed by price – instead pick a removal firm that suits your circumstances and requirements. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask for references.
Don’t do all your correspondence with your removal company by phone or email. Ask them to come over before hand to clarify what you have to move. This will also give you a chance to meet them and get answers to any questions you might have. After all, these are the people who are moving your worldly possessions. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, it might be time for a re-think.
Before you buy extra insurance from your removal company, check your household policy as some policies cover this already.
Always keep lists of everything you need to do and pack as early as possible.
Having a garage sale before you move will give you some extra spending money and reduce the bulk of items you have to move.
If you are doing the packing yourself make sure that you use suitable boxes that are strong enough. You may need to use double strength boxes, as these will be able to take a heavier weight.
Don’t make the boxes so heavy that they cannot be lifted safely. If they are becoming heavy while you are packing them, try filling the rest of the box with lighter items such as linen, towels, cushions or soft toys. Books are the heavyweight champions so smaller boxes are the order of the day for those.
Self-assembly furniture isn’t designed to be flattened, moved and reassembled, so you’ll find that it isn’t usually covered on the insurance.
Label your boxes clearly, preferable along the tape. State where they are to go in the new house. For example: Lounge, Bedroom One, etc. If you have time, write out a list of the contents and tape it to the box.
Always have a kettle to hand – moving house is a thirsty business. You’ll also need cups, milk and tea bags.
Always feed the people who help you. This will give them strength and they deserve it!
Beer seems like a good idea in order to get people to help; but be warned – the amount of beer being drunk is directly proportional to the number of items that will get broken!
If you have children, ask a family member or friend to take care of them for you on the day of the move.
It is okay not to unpack anything on the first night in your new home. However, do set up the main beds no matter how late it is or how tired you are – you will be glad you did this in the morning.
Keep telling yourself that you have done the right thing by moving even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Things will only improve from this point on. This may be your only salvation during a period that is sure to be physically back-breaking, emotionally draining and a mental strain. Good luck!

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